Ask a child to draw a scientist, and she’s more likely than ever to draw a woman. That’s according to a new study in Child Development. Researchers analyzed 78 “draw-a-scientist” studies dating back to the 1960s, involving 20,000 kids in kindergarten through 12th grade. Between 1966 and 1977, the paper says, less than 1 percent of U.S. kids chose to draw a woman when prompted to draw a scientist. But in studies from 1985 to 2016, 28 percent of children drew a female scientist, on average, with both girls and boys drawing women more often over time. Girls still drew female scientists much more often than boys, however.
“Our results suggest that children’s stereotypes change as women’s and men’s roles change in society,” co-author Alice Eagly, a professor of psychology at Northwestern University, said in a statement. “Children still draw more male than female scientists in recent studies, but that is expected because women remain a minority in several science fields.” Eagly and her co-authors also looked at how children form stereotypes about gender and science and found that they don’t begin to associate science with men until grade school.